Do liposome-binding constants of porphyrins correlate with their measured and predicted partitioning between octanol and water?

Mariusz Kȩpczyński, Ramasamy P. Pandian, Kevin M. Smith, Benjamin Ehrenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


We tested correlations between lipophilicity parameters and the partitioning of sensitizers into membranes. For this purpose we investigated 17 porphyrins and two chlorins having various chemical structures. Some of these compounds possess an amphiphilic structure (including hematoporphyrin, deuteroporphyrin, mesoporphyrin, chlorin e6 and more). The others are very symmetrical sensitizers [meso-tetra(N-methyl-4-pyridyl)porphyrin, tetrabenzoporphyrin, coproporphyrin I dihydrochloride (CP), meso-tetra(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrin (TCP) and mesotetra(m-hydroxyphenyl)chlorin]. Our investigation also included two series of hematoporphyrins and protoporphyrins with varying lengths of alkylcarboxylate side groups. The partitioning of these compounds between the bulk aqueous phase and liposomes was studied by fluorescence methods, and a liposome-binding constant, Kb, was obtained. It was found that CP and TCP do not incorporate into the lipid phase at pH 7.3. An n-octanol-water partition coefficient (log P) and a distribution coefficient (log D) were predicted with a modeling software. The values of log D were also obtained experimentally. We found that for the studied molecules, the predicted log D correlated well with the measured values. The values of log D as well as log P, in turn, did not correlate nicely, for the whole group of studied compounds, with the binding constants to liposomes. However, in the case of porphyrins that share a similar structure, the Kb showed good linear correlation with both log P and log D. For the series of hematoporphyrins and protoporphyrins with different lengths of alkylcarboxyl groups, it was shown that prolongation of this group caused an increase in the lipophilicity and the liposome-binding constant. This effect is more pronounced for the proto- than for the hematoporphyrin series. The results highlight the possible use, as well as limitations, of lipophilicity parameters for the prediction of membrane binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2002


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